Cruise recap – Dolphins, horseback riding and more

The sand, the waves, the cheery people…it was all good. Yes, we finally went on that Caribbean cruise that I have been blogging about since March. And by all of us, I mean my family of four, my parents and my brother. We all had a good time.

Everything went pretty well except for one day, which I will get to in a moment, and of course the end when we came home to a 95 degree house (our air conditioner broke while we were away).

IMG_0249So let’s see…the cruise ship – The Carnival Magic – was excellent. I thought the pool seemed kind of small for that size ship (holds up to 6000 passengers and crew members), but it had a water park with two awesome slides, a 9-hole miniature golf course, a sky/rope course, a basketball court and at least six hot tubs.

IMG_0232The kids loved our room. We had a balcony and a connecting door to my parents’ room. Lexie enjoyed sleeping on the top bunk. And I never heard any whining about “getting dressed” for dinner. (No shorts or flip flops allowed in the dining room.) There were a few complaints about having their picture taken on the Elegant nights, but that was easily solved by bribing them with a trip to the onboard candy store.

DSCN0268Of our three stops – I can’t say which was the best. Even Jase said he couldn’t decide and loved all of them. If you asked Lexie her favorite part of the cruise, she would probably say getting chocolate fro-yo from the 24-hour ice cream and frozen yogurt place on the ship.

twister boatIn Cozumel, we took the twister boat out to a private island. The twister boat does 360 degree turns, and you get a “Mexican shower” when the ocean spray hits you. The ride was wilder on the way back as we sat up front and were facing each other.

DSCN0215My parents joined us on the island but took the much slower catamaran. The food was good on the island, and the kids liked playing in the sand and ocean. There was a trampoline in the water. Lexie went out there with her dad and uncle, but Jase thought it was too far from the shore.

CDK_9039 CDK_9137 CDK_9302 CDK_9322Our next stop was Grand Cayman. The ship was late getting in and due to some misinformation, instead of the 7 of us going on our dolphin excursion together, we got separated. My parents and brother made it to the 10 am trip but my husband, kids and I didn’t get off the ship until 10:40 and had to join the 11 am excursion. We went to the turtle farm briefly and then over to swim with the dolphins.

The kids did better than I thought they would. My husband helped Lexie, and I helped Jase. They got pushed on a boogie board and pulled across the water by a dolphin and then got to “dance” and kiss the dolphin though Jase opted out of the kissing. We got some really good (and expensive) pictures.

tia72tia6_#1 The next day, the kids and I went horseback riding in Jamaica with my parents. My husband and brother went zip lining and on a Jamaican bobsled. Their trip took all day while ours was only during the morning. This was my kids first time riding anything besides a pony. They did great. It was an hour-long ride through the Jamaican country-side, and we ended it with a brief ride/swim in the ocean.

DSCN0269Of course, I think Jase’s favorite thing was seeing the kittens at the place.

Overall it was a great cruise minus that one hiccup in Grand Cayman (and coming home to no AC). Everyone had a great time, and the kids are already talking about doing it again.

Advertisements

Today’s Featured Author – Andy Peloquin

Today I welcome Andy Peloquin to my blog. He is on a blog tour promoting his new release The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer.

Interview

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I wish I could write fiction for a living! That’s the plan, but as of right now, I have a day job. Oddly enough, it also involves writing, though much more on the marketing/blogging side of things.

My schedule is pretty well-organized:

7 AM to 12 Noon — Day Job

Noon to 1 PM — Work on whatever project I’m immersed in.

1 to 2 PM — Gym time

2 to 4 PM — Lunch, cleanup, chores, etc.

4 to 5 PM — Preparing for the next day’s work

5 to 6:30 PM — More work on whatever project

6:30 on — Time with family/kids/relaxing

I manage to make time to write because I have a VERY understanding family. They make it easy (most of the time) to fit it in!

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

It’s funny, but I’ve never consciously tried to put myself into my characters. The main character from my first novel had a few of my traits (wise-cracking, irreverent, authority issues, etc.), but it was not a conscious thing.

I think all authors unconsciously add a bit of themselves into each book. After all, you’re the only one you truly understand, so you know how you think and feel. Every character we write has a small shard of ourselves in them, and that’s what makes them realistic characters.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

I am a VERY creative person. I have so many ideas and thoughts whirling around inside my head. Sadly, until I discovered writing, I had no way to let it out. I’m not artistic at all, and I can’t do any of the other tasks we associate with creativity.

But now that I have discovered writing, it’s hard to “turn off the tap” of creativity. If I’m not writing, I’m usually thinking about plot lines, creating new stories, or fine-tuning whatever project I’m working on next. I can’t turn off the creativity–and I don’t want to!

Please tell us about your current release.

The Last Bucelarii is a new dark fantasy/grimdark/Gothic series about a half-demon assassin. He has no memories of his early life, so he feels out of place, like an outcast from society. He uses his work to cover up his lack of belonging and his emptiness, but eventually he has to come to terms with it.

At the same time, he’s dealing with literal “voices in his head”. The psychological concept of a “split identity” or “dark passenger” in his mind is very real to him.

Basically, he’s a mixture of schizophrenic with sociopath, but his flaws and faults make him someone we can all relate to. It’s a dark, twisted tale, and one that I LOVED writing!

What inspired you to write this book?

For me, the most terrifying things in life are NOT monsters. Werewolves, vampires, Kaiju, horror novels, and all that stuff don’t really affect me. Instead, the things that really terrify me are the things HUMANS are capable of.

This story is exactly that–a look at what people will do to achieve what they want.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

I don’t want to spoil too much of the book, but I will share this: the Hunter loses the thing that makes him immortal/hard to kill. He literally has to face his own mortality, and it gives him a unique outlook on life and being human. He also has to make some tough decisions about what he’s willing to do in order to find answers about his past.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The scene I found hardest to write was the raw, emotional scenes near the end of the second act. Some things (no spoilers!) happen to propel the Hunter to go on an all-out rampage against the villains, and there are a few scenes there where s**t gets very real for him. He realizes just how much it hurts to lose the things that he holds most dear.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

I would definitely be the Hunter. He is one bad-ass character. It would be amazing to feel that rush of being more than human, even with all its downsides.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I’m a bit OCD when it comes to my writing. I do my best work when sitting at my desk. I can’t really write if my computer is on my lap, so it’s hard to write on a couch. That being said, the day I buy a Barcalounger/La-Z-Boy is the day that I start learning how to write on my lap.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

I’ve gone through some interesting stages.

At one point, I wrote best with a cup of black or green tea. It has evolved to include:

  • A White Russian (cocktail)
  • Chocolate milk
  • Cold chocolate

I like to have something sweet (such as a PBJ sandwich or a cookie) before I sit down to write. It helps to sort of set the “starting point” for my creative time.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I was born in Japan, my nationality is Canadian, my mother is French, my father is American, and I am currently residing in Mexico.

Book Blurb

Bucelarii - CopyThe Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer

The Hunter of Voramis is the perfect assassin: ruthless, unrelenting, immortal. Yet he is haunted by lost memories, bonded to a cursed dagger that feeds him power yet denies him peace of mind. Within him rages an unquenchable need for blood and death.

When he accepts a contract to avenge the stolen innocence of a girl, the Hunter becomes the prey. The death of a seemingly random target sends him hurtling toward destruction, yet could his path also lead to the truth of his buried past?

About the Author

AndyAndy Peloquin–a third culture kid to the core–has loved to read since before he could remember. Sherlock Holmes, the Phantom of the Opera, and Father Brown are just a few of the books that ensnared his imagination as a child.

When he discovered science fiction and fantasy through the pages of writers like Edgar Rice Burroughs, J.R.R Tolkien, and Orson Scott Card, he was immediately hooked and hasn’t looked back since.

Andy’s first attempt at writing produced In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent. He has learned from the mistakes he made and used the experience to produce Blade of the Destroyer, a book of which he is very proud.

Reading—and now writing—is his favorite escape, and it provides him an outlet for his innate creativity. He is an artist; words are his palette.

His website is a second home for him, a place where he can post his thoughts and feelings–along with reviews of books he finds laying around the internet.

You can follow Andy on Twitter and Facebook.

You can purchase The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer on Amazon

 

Dealing with homonyms

The English language is filled with homonyms – words that are pronounced the same way but spelled differently and mean different things.

Often writers use an incorrect word, and not all grammar checking programs or even proofreader catch all the mistakes.

Here are some examples using the correct word and then followed by the often misused word and the definitions of the two.

Harold’s face twitched with a nervous tic.

tic – a periodic spasm

tick – a small bloodsucking arachnid or perhaps the sharp, recurring click (as of a clock)

The wording piqued my interest.

Pique – aroused or excited

Peaked – to be at the maximum (interest has peaked, and will probably soon decline)

Two vases of flowers stood on either side of the altar.

Altar -the structure in a place of worship

Alter – to change something

She wore a two carat diamond.

Carat – unite of weight for jewels

Caret – a small wedged-shaped mark (^) used by editors to indicate where text should be inserted

She grabbed a box of stationery.

Stationery – writing materials

Stationary – not moving

Donna always sticks to her principles.

Principle – code of conduct

Principal – (noun) the leader of a school or main sum of money owed on a loan  OR (adjective) describes something that is prominent or important (our principal concern)

His office was little more than a cubicle.

Cubicle – a small partitioned space

Cubical – shaped like a cube with six equal square sides

My husband believed in giving his staff free rein.

Rein – to guide (or in this case to give complete freedom)

Reign – to rule as a sovereign power

Rain – water falling to earth or a continuous descent or inflicting of anything (a rain of blows)

The car has dual air bags.

Dual – two

Duel – a contest between two people

The new curtains complemented the room nicely.

Complemented – went well with, enhanced

Complimented – to give a praise

Registration fees may be waived for low income families.

Waived – voluntarily forgo something

Waved – flapping up and down

The police arrived at the grisly scene.

Grisly – gruesome, ghastly

Grizzly – having hair that is gray

She felt as if she had been put through the wringer.

Wringer- a devise for wringing something out, squeezing it dry

Ringer – a person or thing that makes a ringing noise

His lawsuit claimed there had been a breach of contract.

Breach – violation

Breech – bottom or back end of something (a breech birth)

There are MANY other words that often get mixed up but I will leave those for another post.

It is the first day of school – again

Today is the first day of school for Lexie and Jase. How quickly the summer has flown by! It feels as if it began just a few weeks ago. But I am ready for the kids to return to school, so I can resume my normal routine.

IMG_0404This morning there were the usual first-day excitement and nerves. Jase and Lexie were both dressed nicely. Lexie has a new backpack (Elsa of course) and lunch box (also Elsa). She was excited that the backpack came with matching gloves and insisted on wearing them this morning.

Today her backpack was empty except for a letter to her teacher. Each year, I send her teacher a letter to fill the teacher in on Lexie’s eczema and allergies. This year I added a paragraph about her ADD medication. Since we started her medication during the summer, this will be the first time she has attended school on the medication. We can definitely tell a difference of when she is on the medicine and when she is off. However, we don’t know how she will do in the classroom setting so I asked her teacher to let us know if she thought we needed to try a higher dose.

Lexie is starting the second grade this year. Her teacher is Ms. Luna. We met her last Thursday at Meet the Teacher night – an event to let the kids see their classroom, meet their teacher and classmates and drop off their school supplies.

As always, Lexie wanted me to walk her to her classroom, but they have parents drop their kids off in the lobby. I think they request this to lessen the chance of parents hovering about. The sooner the kids get into the routine the better.

Jase begins fourth grade this year, so he has the routine down pat. He knows where to go to meet up with his class. The first through fifth graders meet in the gym while the new kindergartners get to meet in the library where someone reads them a story until time to go to class.

Jase elected to re-use the backpack he had in second grade. It is a green camo-print backpack. Jase is very concerned about what the other kids will think so he didn’t want to take a character backpack. Last year’s backpack had Darth Vader/Star Wars on it.

Jase is very excited this year because one of his best friends is in class with him. They haven’t shared a class since kindergarten. Checking out the class list, he knows at least 3/4 of the class which I am sure helps him with his nerves.

So now I am at home, trying to get back into the swing of things without the kids around. All too soon it will be time to go pick them up and listen to them excitedly tell me about their day. I’m looking forward to that.

Today’s Featured Author: Susabelle Kelmer

Today I welcome author Susabelle Kelmer to my blog. Her book, Fairest of the Faire, came out in June.

Interview

Where were you born and where do you call home?

I was born and lived my first 50 years in the St. Louis metro area.  I lived in suburbs, the city itself, and then far out in an adjoining rural county.  I moved to Colorado for work during the recession, and settled in Longmont, Colorado.  Longmont is the big city that is really a small town, about 20 miles northeast of Boulder.  The Rocky Mountains are practically in my back yard.  I love it here and will never move back to Missouri!  I am the product of a country father, and a city mother, so living in a semi-rural area suits me just fine.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?

The best thing about being a writer is being able to tell stories.  I am a born storyteller,  so this fits me well.  The worst part of writing is all that editing.  I marvel at writers pre-typewriter.  They wrote long-hand and didn’t edit the way we do today.  We are spoiled by word processors, I know.  But having to be perfect with each word would be paralyzing, too.  So I have a lot of respect for those writers of the classics.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I am a pantser, for sure.  The few times I tried to outline, it was a disaster.  The writing of the outline meant I’d written the story, and no longer had the energy or willingness to write the actual story.  So I do better as a pantser.  I usually start with an idea, a character, a scene, and build around it.  I refer to myself as a “spiral” writer.  That little scene or character becomes a seed that I build around to get the whole story.  I enjoy the process, for the most part.

What inspired you to write this book?

I love Renaissance fairs.  There is drama, incredible costumes, yummy foods, lots of play-acting.  I have friends who’ve worked fairs, and my brother is a blacksmith who works the Greater St. Louis RenFaire with some of his buddies.  I had good resources for doing the research. At that renfair I encountered a very handsome young man dressed in a very interesting costume.  My friend and I twittered and giggled at him from a distance, and I took a few pictures (he was posing for everyone).  I knew he had a story, so I wrote it, and it fell together pretty easily.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

All of my stories turn out the way I expect. (grin)  It is all that stuff in the middle that is a surprise.  When I think about a story I want to write, I usually have a beginning (the Great Meeting), and an end (Happily Ever After), but getting to that end is where the work is.  So the middles sometimes are very different than what I might have thought they would be.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I am very blessed to have dedicated writing space in my home.  We rent a large house, and there is a complete guest suite on the garden level – kitchenette, full bath, bedroom, and sitting room.  A corner of the sitting room is my “office.”  I have a large trestle table that is my desk (I move my feet a lot so a traditional desk is not comfortable for me), two book cases, and a small file cabinet.  I spent a lot of time down there – either writing or hanging out on the Internet.  When we have guests, I am evicted, of course, and have to make do in a corner of the bedroom or at the end of the dining room table with my laptop.  I love the space, though.  It’s quiet and away from the household noise, and I can play my favorite music and talk to our black cat, Gracie.

What book are you reading right now?

I buy a lot of used books at thrift stores, so I have an odd assortment of things on my “to be read” pile.  Right now I’m reading an older hard-back book called “Prairie Songs.”  Can’t remember the author off the top of my head, but the story is written from the perspective of a young girl living on the prairie in a “soddy” house with her brother and her parents.  So far, I’m enjoying it.  Before that, I read “Waltzing the Cat” by Pam Houston.  Interesting book, and I loved the main character and her independence.  It was definitely different than anything I’d read before.  As a writer, I know I need to read, and read more, but time is limited for me with a full-tme job and the usual wife/mom things to do, so I don’t get as much reading time as I like.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I was an athlete in high school.  Until my lungs went bad at 17, I regularly placed at swim meets.  I also played basketball, soccer, and softball.  I was also in the marching band (I played piccolo) and we were second in the state every year I was in high school.  Most people look at me and can’t believe I was ever an athlete.

Book Blurb

perf5.000x8.000.inddSchoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Youngblood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

About the Author

susabellesmallSusabelle Kelmer is a wife and mother living at the base of the Rocky Mountains in northern Colorado. She believes in romance, second chances, and the magic of moonlight. When she isn’t writing, she works with students with disabilities in the college environment.

You can find out more about Susabelle on her website or her blog. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Fairest of the Faire on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and through Wild Rose Press.

 

Publishing your novel recap – Number 3

I was on vacation last week. That is my excuse for doing another recap post.

This is obviously my third recap of publishing your novel posts. You can read the first one from June 2013 here or the last one from September 2014 here. I like to think they contain some good information.

So you want to self-publish your novel? There is a lot to learn and it is an ever-changing world. Here are my posts on publishing posted in the past year. Listed are the title of the post and the first few lines and then a link if you want to read the post.

Formatting your self-published novel – DIY or hire someone? – You have written your novel and now are ready to publish it as an e-book. But your file needs to be submitted in the proper format as required by the publisher. So do you do it yourself or hire someone to do it for you?(To read more, click here.)

CIMG0524Revisiting the all-important book blurb – The book blurb is one of the most important promotional tools you will write for your novel. This short piece of prose can entice someone to buy your novel – or pass it up. Because it is so important, you should spend a lot of time perfecting your novel’s blurb. (To continue reading, click here.)

Choosing the front matter for your self-published book – You have worked hard on your novel and are now ready to publish it. But the first thing readers will see when they begin reading your e-book won’t be your story. Everything that goes before your story is called the Front Matter and introduces your book to the reader. (To read more, click here.)

Deciding on back matter for your e-book – Last week, I covered front matter (all the pages BEFORE your story) in your book. Today, I want to talk about back or matter – which as you guessed is all the pages AFTER your story. (To continue reading, click here.)

preorder amazonPre-Orders: Are they worth it? – When I published my first three novels, setting up a pre-order was not available to self-published authors. Since then, both Amazon and Smashwords have begun offering pre-orders. (To read more, click here.)

Do you need to copyright your self-published novel? – This is often a question that new self-published authors ask. And the quick answer is no. As soon the words leave your mind and you put them on paper (or type them into your computer file), it is already protected under U.S. copyright law. (To read more, click here.)

Preparing for an e-book release – So you have written an awesome story, edited it until it shines and formatted it for publication as an e-book. The cover has been designed and the engaging book blurb has been written. You are ready to release your book to the world. So what do you do now? How do you let everyone know about your masterpiece? (To find out, click here.)

If you are self-published, you might be considering using Kindle Direct Publishing’s Select program. To find out my most recent stint with KDP Select, check out these two posts. The first one goes over the program and author concerns with using it. The second is my results from using it from January to April of this year.

Considering KDP Select again

KDP Select free book promo results

If you have any ideas for further posts about self-publishing a novel, please feel free to suggest them.